Application by the Board’s solicitor to the Professional Conduct Committee, heard on 5 December 2006.
In the matter of a charge of unprofessional conduct against the architect I— S—, a report dated 7 December 2005 had been received by the Professional Conduct Committee. This report contained two allegations:–
(a) “that the Architect did not maintain an appropriate level of professional indemnity insurance; alternatively
(b) “that despite requests from the Architects Registration Board, the Architect failed to produce to the Architects Registration Board evidence demonstrating that he maintains an appropriate level of professional indemnity insurance.”
The Investigations Committee, having later discovered that there was no case to answer under (a), sought to amend (b) and on 14 April 2006 instructed the Board’s solicitor
“... to apply to the Professional Conduct Committee to permit the Investigations Committee to withdraw its earlier report dated 23 March 2005 and asks that the matter be referred back to it for further consideration. Should the Professional Conduct Committee agree to this request, this Committee would ask that it be permitted that the Secretariat of the Board furnish it with further information as to whether evidence of professional insurance cover was requested from this architect for the periods 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 and whether such evidence has been received in a timely fashion.”
The application, made by the solicitor on 27 June 2006, was as follows:–
“That my Report under Rule 8 as the Board’s Solicitor dated 7 December 2005 to the Professional Conduct Committee be withdrawn and that this matter be referred back to the Investigations Committee for further consideration.”
The application was heard by the Professional Conduct Committee on 5 December 2006. It was opposed by the architect who said:–
“I would be grateful if you would turn to [the Act] section 14, subsection 3. And I shall read that.
‘Where the Professional Conduct Committee receives a report under subsection (2) in relation to a registered person, the Committee shall consider whether he is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence.’
“I would like to draw the committee’s attention to the fact that this subsection in the Act is not qualified, and that it is governed by the word ‘shall’ – which is obligatory. It follows that it is obligatory that when the Professional Conduct Committee receives a report under subsection (2) in relation to the registered person, the committee shall unfailingly consider whether he is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence. Of that there can be no exception whatsoever. I therefore oppose the Board’s application.”
At the end of this preliminary hearing (5 December 2006) the Committee rejected the Board’s application, ruling:–
“We take the view, however, that neither [Rule 15 subsection c] nor any other which has been brought to our attention, nor section 14 of the Architects Act 1997, which appears to address the process of complaints being brought to the PCC, provide us with specific powers which will allow us to permit a withdrawal, and on that basis we simply do not see that it is open to us to make a decision on the basis of your application and therefore we dismiss that application.”
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